What “Hamilton” Can Teach Us About Business
October 1 2016
“Hamilton” is quickly becoming one of the most famous musicals of all time, and if you were lucky enough to somehow get a pair of coveted tickets to this groundbreaking performance, you have witnessed a historic turning point in terms of racial diversity and musical innovation on Broadway. Creator and star Lin Manuel Miranda made his dream a reality when he created a hip-hop rendition of “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow.
The story struck a chord with Miranda, who noticed the “hip-hop” in Hamilton's struggles as a poor immigrant orphan from the Caribbean who beat all odds to become an American legend. Hamilton did not fit the mold of a Founding Father. These people had plantations and land and a name and a blood line - they had money. Hamilton had to earn everything he ever had. He had more in common with the soldiers at the time when it came to lineage than with the leaders. Miranda read him as a diamond in the rough, with an upbringing not unlike many minorities growing up today, not unlike some of our biggest hip-hop icons.
Considering that Broadway audiences have long been predominately white, “Hamilton” casting of mainly African American and Latino performers and composing of a hip-hop score is revolutionary, and has ignited new passion for Broadway among a more diverse audience.
To me, “Hamilton” represents risk. Miranda took a big risk when he decided to create this show, but he did so with a ton of intentionality, skill, and understanding of diverse backgrounds and modern audiences. He saw the story in a way other writers wouldn't, and played on his strengths. Most of all, Miranda believed in his vision. He knew his show could reach the masses and he saw its immense potential.
In business, like in art, you have to take a risk to stand out. Sometimes that risk is big, and people might not understand it. But really, those who make a mark are often those who follow and believe in their vision. They know theirs is something great, but it's just a matter of convincing everyone else.
Starting a business in the first place was a personal risk for me, but to make my business grow I had to really believe in my ability to make my products and services unique in the industry. I was offered some great advice about making business much more personal, and I ran with it. Showing the human side of my business was not something many other tour companies were doing. We also did not sell by the merits of the destinations we offered, but the benegits travel agents and tour operators would get by working with us, like saving tie or giving them more opportunity to grow their own businesses. Let me tell you, this was a risk. It was a bit of a foreign concept, and some people I know in business weren't sure the way I was doing things would be successful. Like Miranda, who took a big risk, even for his own reputation, I think we need to look at how we promote our businesses. We're living in the “Uber economy” where businesses are disrupting entire industries with innovation and thinking outside the box. Is your business taking the right risks? How are you changing the status quo?